Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Dell Plans to Spend A Billion Dollars to Build 10 New Data Centers

Dell is announcing a big push around cloud computing services today, and is promising to spend $1 billion in an effort to build 10 new data centers around the world between now and 2013 as key aspect of it.

The new data centers would add to its sizable footprint of 36 data centers already in operation. While it won’t yet say where they’ll all be, some will be in Asia, a few in the Europe-Middle East-Africa region, and at least three will be in the US. Steve Schuckenbrock, president of Dell Services, wouldn’t go into any further detail than that. He did say Dell selected the locations based on a combination of where it already has a data center presence and where it sees new demand emerging.

Schuckenbrock, along with Praveen Asthana, Dell’s vice president for Enterprise Solutions, talked about the plans on a conference call with reporters yesterday. They said Dell’s plan calls for a new push to offer both platform and virtual desktop-as-service as well as IT outsourcing. Dell will run both private and public clouds, and will offer Microsoft Azure as well as VMWare and Openstack, an open-source cloud architecture it has backed, based on the customer’s needs.

It also announced a new product called vStart, an easy-to-buy virtual infrastructure that’s based on its Dell PowerEdge servers, which incidentally run on Intel’s Xeon processors which were the subject of a big upgrade announcement on Tuesday. VStart combines the servers, its EqualLogic storage product, and its PowerConnect switches into a single product that can run either 100 or 200 virtual machines at once.

Dell also deepened its relationship with Microsoft around cloud services, announcing a three-year strategic partnership with Redmond that’s based around Microsoft’s System Center, a product for managing IT infrastructure. It is also adding new file-backup and email archiving services to the mix.

Finally Dell is rolling out a virtual desktop product that strikes me as piercing the heart of its identity as a PC vendor to large companies. It’s offering a virtual desktop solution that can essentially replace the desktop that you’re probably using on your desk right now with a virtual machine, where all the computing happens in a data center.

Asthana says there’s a lot of benefits to running a virtual desktop. For one thing virtual machines are more secure, they’re easier to support. He says Dell’s customers are struggling with the complexity of switching to virtual desktops. “They don’t even know where to start, giving all the questions around hardware and software,” he said. Though it still lags behind Hewlett-Packard in the desktop PC business, its experience in understanding how companies use old-school desktops gives it a leg up in taking the hassle out of moving to virtual ones, he said. The point is to make it easy. Time will tell what companies think about about it.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google